Barrick to double copper output

Global mining company Barrick plans to double its copper output by the end of the decade and continue to increase its production of the metal to an estimated one-billion pounds, or 450 000 t/y, by 2031, says president and CEO Mark Bristow.

The substantial growth in copper production combined with the output from Barrick’s gold portfolio is expected to increase the group’s attributable production by some 30% to 6.8-million gold-equivalent ounces by 2031.

“The value of these projects, and in particular of our substantial and growing copper business, is currently underestimated by the market. If it was properly appreciated, Barrick would be commanding a premium to our peers,” he comments.

Reko Diq, in Pakistan, is positioned to rank as one the world’s top ten copper mines when it reaches full production and the prefeasibility study on the Lumwana Super Pit expansion, in Zambia, is projected to deliver a potential of 240 000 t/y of copper production from a 50-million-tonne process plant expansion over a 36-year life-of-mine. The accelerated Lumwana work programme is now targeting to complete a full feasibility study by the end of next year, which brings forward expected production from the Super Pit to 2028.

The Reko Diq project also remains on track to deliver an updated feasibility study by the end of 2024. Together, the Reko Diq and Lumwana Super Pit feasibility studies will underpin potential reserve updates and the transition to construction.

“Within our gold growth portfolio, the wholly-owned Fourmile project [in Nevada] is a best-in-class development project located in the world’s most prolific gold district adjacent to existing infrastructure, with ongoing drilling demonstrating significant potential to increase in grade and size. Accordingly, we are assessing options for independent exploration decline access in support of a prefeasibility study, which would later be re-utilised for development and production complementing the current Goldrush development. The results of our preliminary economic assessment indicate that this could support a potential production profile of 300 000 to 400 000 ounces per annum, over and above the existing Cortez profile of 950 000 to 1.2-million ounces per year (100% basis) over 10 years,” says mineral resource management and evaluation executive Simon Bottoms.

Bristow says Nevada Gold Mines, the world’s biggest gold mining complex, is expected to grow its yearly production to 3.7-million ounces towards the end of the decade, driven by three tier-one assets and near-mine exploration pointed to the extension of that horizon to 15 years and beyond.

In the Carlin district, the current ten-year production profile is expected to be between 1.4-million and 1.6-million ounces a year (100% basis). The company has identified a potential high-grade opportunity at Horsham on the north-east side of the known high-grade controlling structures in the Leeville Complex and is expected to extend this profile well past the ten-year window.

Similarly at Turquoise Ridge, the miner expects to build on the already significant reserves and resources base with multimillion-ounce potential growth opportunities at Cricket Corridor to the east, BBT Corridor to the south, and Getchell Fault zone to the west. This will potentially further add to the existing ten-year production profile of 550 000 oz/y to 700 000 oz/y.

In Latin America, the Pueblo Viejo expansion project is transforming a tier-one mine headed for closure into a long-life, low-cost producer.

In Papua New Guinea, Barrick is working towards the restart of Porgera by the end of this year, and restarted drilling will target the resource definition of the Wangima Pit, with similar geology to the existing underground and openpit, which has the potential to underpin a 20-year mine life.

“The Africa and Middle East region, our most consistent production and reserve replacement performer, now also presents us with the exciting growth opportunities as we leverage our partnership model in Tanzania and Saudi Arabia,” Bristow says.

By: Gary Kakompe

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